I'm having difficulties understanding why, in a reading test, one answer is marked as correct instead of another.

The full text can be found here. In this post I will only paste the sections relevant to the answers, and the answers to choose from.

日本人に個性がないということはよく言われていることだけれど、今世界的に、1 週間、或いは年間にどれだけ働くか、ということについて、常識的な申し合わせが行われていることには、私はいつも違和感を覚えている



The question and answers to choose from are below:


  1. 世界的に労働時間が決められているから。
  2. 適切な労働時間は人によって異なるから。
  3. 日本人は時間にきびしいから。
  4. 日本人は働きすぎるから。

Answers 3 and 4 are plain wrong so nothing to discuss there. At a first reading I was quite sure the answer would be 1. However, number 2 is what given as correct.

My question is, why is that? Or equivalently why is number 1 wrong?

I certainly understand why number 2 is true as a statement itself, but I thought that number 1. indicates more precisely what the 違和感 refers to.

This because it quite clearly says: [...]ことには[...]違和感を覚えている, and that ことには, which is what the "uncomfortable feeling" generates from, refers what came just before, that is, to the fact that in the world nowadays there it is common to believe that there should be a right/fixed amount of working hours (very loosely translated here). Which is just answer 1, isn't it?

Maybe I'm missing something trivial here, I would appreciate some help. Thanks as usual.

1 Answer 1


The ことには refers to what situation he feels uncomfortable.
The question is なぜ. So you have to say why he feels that way.

The reason why is explained after the statement in the following paragraph.

Simply put,

In a world where the amount of required time to work is fixed, I have always felt uncomfortable... The fact is that the optimal amount of time to work varies from one person to another...

If the question is

Why does he feel uncomfortable?

The answer would be 適切な労働時間は人によって異なるから。

  • 1
    Yeah actually that's exactly what I was guessing a moment ago too. Still, as much as I understand that in this type of exercises one or two answer are often very subtle on purpose, it seems to me that here is beyond that. "What" situation makes me uncomfortable is also by definition "why" I feel uncomfortable... Do you know what I mean? Is not that easy to explain. Anyway, thanks for the answer that I think makes sense anyway. +1
    – Tommy
    Mar 15, 2017 at 7:54
  • I think 'feel uncomfortable' is a little bit deficient translation of 違和感を覚える in this formal writing. We can use 違和感を覚える for immaterial facts. In other words, even if we don't actually physically or mentally feel uncomfortable, we use that expression meaning 'the fact is not necessarily right'.
    – user19858
    Mar 15, 2017 at 9:46
  • 1
    Correction: ~に違和感を覚える in formal writing can mean 'to think ~ is wrong/ not necessarily right'. Thus you can rephrase the question like this: Why the author thinks (the fact that 今世界的に、1 週間、或いは年間にどれだけ働くか、ということについて、常識的な申し合わせが行われていること) is wrong (or not necessarily right)? Then you can get the appropriate answer for this question I suppose.
    – user19858
    Mar 15, 2017 at 10:04
  • If this is true it actually makes much more sense. Thanks.
    – Tommy
    Mar 15, 2017 at 23:57

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